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Abbas-Appointed Mufti: No Jewish Place of Worship Existed on Temple Mount

A day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for an end to incitement, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, said in an Arabic interview on Israeli television that the Temple Mount has been the site of a mosque “since the creation of the world,” and that it never housed a Jewish temple, The Times of Israel reported Sunday.

The Mufti’s remarks contradict extensive archaeological and literary evidence, including some from Islamic sources, attesting to the existence of two Jewish temples on the compound, which Jews regard as their holiest site.

Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein said in an Arabic interview with Israel’s Channel 2 that the site, considered the third holiest in Islam and the holiest to Jews, was a mosque “3,000 years ago, and 30,000 years ago” and has been “since the creation of the world.”

“This is the Al-Aqsa Mosque that Adam, peace be upon him, or during his time, the angels built,” the mufti said of the 8th-century structure commissioned by Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. …

He vehemently denied that there has ever been a Jewish shrine atop the Temple Mount, despite rich archaeological and textual evidence to the contrary, including from Muslim sources. The 10th-century Muslim historian Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Shams al-Din al-Muqaddasi wrote in his description of Syria and Palestine that “in Jerusalem is the oratory of David and his gate; here are the wonders of Solomon and his cities,” and that the foundations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque “were laid by David.”

Hussein was appointed Mufti by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2006 and has a history of making incendiary remarks. Three months after his appointment, Hussein endorsed Palestinian suicide bombings against Israelis, calling the attacks “legitimate resistance.” This past summer, he condemned Israel’s decision to outlaw the Murabitin, an Islamic group whose members often harass non-Muslim visitors at the Temple Mount, saying that Jews will now be allowed to defile al-Aqsa Mosque. His language was echoed by Abbas last month.

Earlier this year, Hussein laid a wreath at the grave of Haj Amin al-Husseini, a former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and an indicted war criminal and Nazi collaborator who incited deadly riots against Jews in pre-state Israel by spreading false rumors that they threatened al-Aqsa Mosque.

On Saturday, in a press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Kerry called for a number of measures to be implemented to reduce tensions in Jerusalem, including an end to violence and incitement. One of the most prominent measures, the installation of cameras throughout the Temple Mount, which was suggested by Jordan’s King Abdullah, was welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

[Photo: Sliman Khader / Flash 90 ]Sheikh Muh